Montana coal export trains to be included in Northwest coal port study – Public News Service, Aug. 1, 2013

August 1, 2013

Categories: Climate change, Coal, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Debbie Courson Smith

BELGRADE, Mont. — Montana is in the game. The agencies reviewing plans for coal export terminals in Washington state are going to look at how increased coal-train traffic would affect people living along the line – from Montana to the terminal sites in Washington. Jeannie Brown owns a home in Belgrade about 300 feet from the railroad tracks, and cares for a medically-needy granddaughter. She welcomes the news and points out that coal train traffic has already increased.

“I don’t get to sleep well at night, she doesn’t sleep well at night. I literally cannot leave my windows open during the day or at night because of the train traffic. The trains are so noisy.”

The U-S Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County in Washington will look at health impacts from coal dust, greenhouse gas emissions and how more rail traffic affects people, towns and emergency response systems along the rail line.

Those backing the plan, including Peabody Energy, say it means cash for towns along the way through train fees and jobs as coal is mined in Montana and Wyoming. Brown counters that by saying money shouldn’t be the only deciding factor in shipping coal to China and other countries – and she hopes their concerns will be heard.

“I am so, so, so thankful. And I hope to God they come and ask and they talk and we all have an opportunity to just really explain how terrible it is in our lives right now.”

Missoula County and the Northern Plains Resource Council asked that the effects of increased coal-train traffic be examined. Plans show that train traffic would increase by about 40 trains per day if all three proposed export terminals are approved. Trains would travel through Belgrade, Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula.

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